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How to make a decorative room divider

Room divider screen
Room divider screen side 1
Room divider screen side 2

Here's an idea of how to make your own room divider/screen for a relatively low cost. It's cheaper than purchasing one and much more fun to create your own - choosing the colors and exact size that you want. Our idea is just one of many - use your imagination! The styles, decorations and embellishments you could use are endless.

Material list
1. A sheet of pine softboard 2400mm x 1200mm (4ft x 8ft)
2. Jigsaw
3. Work stools/table
4. 2 x clamps
5. Pencil and string
6. Long ruler or straight edge
7. Wide material tape
8. Wallpaper with embossed patterns
9. Wallpaper paste
10. Large paintbrush
11. Sponge
12. Craft knife
13. Cutting mat
14. PVA glue
15. Spray paint of various colors; including one of black
16. White acrylic paint
17. Paint roller
18. Protective gear: mask and gloves
19. Staple gun

A few pics followed by the 'how-to' write-up

Sheet of pine softboard Measure and mark Panel cut to size

A friend wanted to hide the computer desk in their small apartment and we decided on a divider to block off the area. For this divider we bought a 2400mm x 1200mm (4ft x 8ft) sheet of pine softboard, but you could use a similar lightweight wood.

We decided we wanted five panels for our divider, so we divided the sheet up evenly into five 480mm wide x 1200mm (19" x 48") high pieces.

First, measure and mark where you want to cut on the sheet.

Mark your chosen increments across the top, bottom and middle of the sheet. By measuring and marking it three times, you can get an accurate straight line by using these three marks to align your ruler/stick to when drawing the cutting line.

Now you need to cut up your sheet into the five parts with a jigsaw.

Place your sheet on a workbench. Position the line you are about to cut along over the edge, as close to the bench as possible, while leaving enough room that the jigsaw blade will not run into the bench. Clamp the sheet to the bench in this position for stability.

If you do not have a jigsaw, a handsaw will do as this pine softboard is quite easy to cut. Have someone help you when you get near the end of each cut. They should hold the piece you are cutting off securely, so that the weight of it falling does not tear the tip as you near the end.

Apply wallpaper paste Sponge out air bubbles Trim off excess wallpaper Spray paint over wallpaper Effect of spray paint Effect of spray paint Effect of spray paint

Once each piece is cut, you can start decorating them. We found a leftover roll of wallpaper with a great texture and pattern. We didn't like the color but we decided to use it anyway and simply spray paint over the paper.

This one roll was perfect in width and had enough length to do all five pieces with leftover for trims (explained later).

Cut five pieces of wallpaper to cover one side of each panel. Allow excess on each side you can cut away later.

Prepare wallpaper paste to manufacturer's instructions. Using a large paintbrush, apply the paste to one side of the panel and to the back of the wallpaper.

Stick the wallpaper to the timber by starting from one side and smoothing it down towards the end, using a sponge to squeeze out air bubbles along the way. Repeat this for all five panels.

Once dry, turn upside down, and use a large cutting mat and craft knife to trim off the excess wallpaper.

Turn back over. Now you can experiment with jazzing up the wallpaper by painting it.

We had several cans of spray paint in different colors so we experimented with all. Each color created a slightly different effect in terms of transparency. With the yellow, we sprayed four or five coats over the wallpaper, which allowed a perfect amount of original wallpaper color to shine through. The blue spray paint only took two coats and completely covered the color, leaving a subtler pattern of the embossed surface.

Roll on paint Trace template for trim Cut out trim Glue reverse side of trim Attach to panel Fold over panel edge

Once dry, turn upside down and roll on a coat or two of white acrylic paint. We used white because we had plenty, and liked the idea of having one bright side to the screen and one plain side. Allow for drying time, giving as many coats as you like. Repeat with each panel.

Now it's time to prepare the trim for each panel. As we had enough wallpaper left, we made a cardboard stencil of a pattern and copied our pattern onto the back of the wallpaper.

Our pattern was designed to fold around the edge each of each panel to trim both sides at once.

Measure out the pattern on the wallpaper and then turn over and spray paint the surface a color of your choice: in our case, black.

Once dry, cut out each trim and attach to the edges of each panel by brushing PVA glue on the back of the trim.

We used PVA glue instead of wallpaper paste, as we needed something a lot stronger to deal with the small amount of surface bonding and with the bends around the edges.

Secure trim on corner Tape together 1st and 2nd panels Tape together 2nd and 3rd panel on reverse side Concertina effect Tape outer edges Finished room divider screen

Glue the trim along the longest sides first and finish with the short sides. This is so that once you have glued your trim along a long edge, you can fold it over at the top and staple gun to secure the corner. You want the folded edges up the top so that there are no extra bulges on the long sides when you join the panels together (as in the next step). Trim the short pieces exactly to size and then glue over the folded corner.

Once glued, allow time to dry.

Now you can join the panels together for the finish. We wanted a concertina effect and decided to join the panels using material tape to act similar to a long hinge.

Lay the panels out on even surface in the order you wish them to be joined and push the first set of panels together.

Starting at one end and pressing firmly as you roll out the tape, run it along the join.

Trim off excess tape when you have finished - you may need a hand to do all this. What you have just taped will create an inner fold.

Because of the concertina effect we wanted, the next board needs to be joined by taping from the other side of the panels. Turn the panels around and tape them.

Now do the next join; this time taping the same side as the first. Continue this pattern until you're finished joining all the panels.

Now you can add tape to the outer folds of the panels for extra strength and to hold the joins together tightly. Since this tape will need to bend both in and out, completely fold back the join when you apply the tape. This allows the tape to flex in and out of the join.

And there you have it: an easy to join and easy to move screen/room divider. As you can see, there are many other options for decorating this project. Have fun!